The end of the beginning

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MAY 13, 2022

I can’t believe this is my first time publishing a personal piece. In fact, I’ve always found it weirdly uncomfortable to share my emotions — perhaps it is the intimacy that scares me. Yet here I am, writing my first and probably the last column for Daily Cal, so brace yourself and let’s ride down the memory lane of my journey at UC Berkeley as a geology student, amongst other responsibilities. 

What brought me to UC Berkeley was the power of mother nature, who creates and transforms spectacular landscapes. I came here to enrich my experiences in doing seismological and geological research. During my time traversing rocks and landscapes over different times and spaces, however, I have gradually “unearthed” something unexpected about myself, something that has shifted my perspectives of looking at my career that leads to an array of future possibilities. 

“Hey, what do you want to do in the future?”

 “Hmm, I do not know yet, but I will see,” That would be my go-to response back then, and I believe those of you who have been asked the same question would have a similar reply.

I admire (or rather am jealous of) people who know exactly what they want. I can never fathom how we are supposed to know what we want to do before stepping foot into it. Now that I look back, I enjoy the time when I did not plan much and simply went for what I was eager to do at that moment. 

I guess that explains why I interned for a mapping team, co-led a rover-designing team, became a lab and research assistant and joined a filmmaking team and dance team — all at the same time. I also worked as a math tutor, researcher and activist, as well as volunteered for humanitarian teams. 

At this point, you can probably tell I’m a turbulent person who is passionate about pushing myself in almost everything. Yet I couldn’t tell you what I want for a career.

Throughout college, I tried out a lot of things but struggled to figure out a career choice. It was as if everything I did — the lab work, the fieldwork, the program planning and the community organizing — weren’t exactly the thing. 

It’s especially stressful when your peers tell you their five-year plan, or that they are pursuing triple degrees, right? I believe I’m not alone. 

If you’re in the same boat, no worries — we will figure it out when it comes to us. I didn’t realize what I wanted to do until today, when I encountered something called journalism. 

I witnessed firsthand how important journalists are in telling the truth during the 2019 Hong Kong anti-extradition protest. I started to pay more attention to the role of journalism in society around the world, which led me to report on court cases during my gap year.

When I returned to UC Berkeley to continue my undergraduate studies last summer, I couldn’t stop thinking and reevaluating how I could contribute to my beloved #HomeKong and our global society. I felt the urge to equip myself with better communication skills.

“Hello, my name is Winnie. I’m a news reporter for The Daily Californian and I’m covering this event. Do you have a minute for a brief interview?” I took a breath and asked while carefully approaching a participant at a rally for the University Council-American Federation of Teachers.

It was my first news story. I will never forget how I tremblingly walked closer to participants and tried to tap on their shoulders — but held my hand in the air because I thought it was inappropriate at the last minute. 

I will also always remember how low-key excited I was walking to Sproul Hall and grabbing my first printed article on a Thursday morning. I will remember the first time I was introduced to people as a news reporter at a press conference for the #CaliforniansforAll College Corps program. 

I can’t stress enough how grateful I am for the opportunities I have had at the Daily Cal to cover various news stories over the past two semesters — from campus activism and the latest research to administrative policies. 

Every time I saw messages from editors looking for reporters to cover events and meetings, I would immediately open my Google calendar to see how I could rearrange my schedule to make time for them. The live coverages I ran to in between classes and work — such as the different rallies for housing and environmental justice, international issues concerning Indian farmers, Sudan and Ukraine — became my most memorable pieces. 

My senior norm became doing phone interviews in the car. It sounds funny, but I feel like it could partly summarize my senior life. When I received interview calls while I was driving or walking on the street, I would pull over or run to a relatively quiet place (like my car) and quickly pull out my notebook and pen from my backpack. I forgot how many times I was late for classes because we didn’t want to stop chatting. It’s been a bit chaotic sometimes, but I enjoyed hearing people’s stories and thoughts so much. 

After several surprise interviews, I began intentionally remembering all my questions in case anyone gave me a call anytime. Of course, I also tried to park my car as close as possible to McCone Hall, where most (if not all) of geology classes took place. 

Some people wonder why I joined the Daily Cal’s news department during my senior year. I guess the answer is pretty obvious: Joining The Daily Californian is one of the best decisions I have made in my undergraduate life. 

Two semesters might sound short, but ten months is long enough to serve as the turning point.

To all community members, students, scholars, scientists, administrators, policymakers and stakeholders, you might not see this note, but thank you for spending time doing interviews with me and allowing me to learn more of your stories, thoughts and research. 

Most importantly, thank you to all reporters and editors who revised and fact-checked with me, as well as brainstormed and believed in me as a news reporter. I have been so honored to work with you — the most talented and hardworking students I’ve met in college. 

University is the perfect place for trial and error; for us to explore new things. It’s okay to be frustrated, but do not hesitate to make changes and take time for yourself. 

I think I should probably end this piece here, at the end and the beginning of my journey into the insecure — yet exciting — unknown. I want to thank my family and friends too for their utmost support always.

Thank you to all the noozies and The Daily Californian, where I want to stay longer so badly. 

Contact Winnie Lau at 


MAY 13, 2022